Background Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) is hoped to protect structures important for swallow function. We compared posttreatment swallow function in 7 pairs of patients with head and neck cancer treated with either IMRT or conventional radiotherapy (RT). Methods Patients were matched on tumor characteristics. Swallowing function was evaluated with the modified barium swallow procedure pretreatment and at 3 and 6 months postcancer treatment completion. Swallows were analyzed for bolus transit times, bolus residues, laryngeal closure (LAC) duration, cricopharyngeal opening (CPO) duration, and oropharyngeal swallow efficiency (OPSE). Data were analyzed using multifactor repeated measures analysis of variance and adjusted for baseline function. Results Main effect of radiation type was significant for all measures on at least 1 bolus type. Patients treated with IMRT demonstrated shorter bolus transit times, less oral and pharyngeal residue, longer LAC, and larger OPSE. Conclusion Patients treated with IMRT demonstrated faster, more efficient swallows, and greater airway protection.
- conventional radiotherapy
- head and neck cancer
- intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
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